CALLED is now available
 April 17, 2013
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners' ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build - but not I build; no, but strain,
Time's eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
 - Gerard Manley Hopkins Like us on Facebook   
Is a Church Building Necesary?
Changing Organizational Culture
Let the Women be Silent
Reading: People of faith have less depression
Quotes: "The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism."
Events & news: Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition

Loren's picture 4 by Loren Seibold

I have a congregation that is reduced to just a handful of active members, none of them young. They're housed in a broken-down, maintenance-long-deferred church over a hundred years old. Bricks are falling off, a whole section of the building is separating so that squirrels and raccoons squeeze in, the stained-glass windows are falling out, we have damage from termites and black mold, and leaking roofs have left rusty spots on the old tin ceilings. It stinks - literally.

They know they can't continue on there, although thus far, we've not been successful in finding a buyer. But if we do sell it, what then?

There is almost a desperation in the congregation not to be without a building of their own. I've suggested house church, and renting a room from another church or organization. But even with such a weak congregation, having their own building seems to be their absolute minimum requirement. They'd rather continue in that horrible building, with two short pews occupied on the best Sabbath, than not have a building of their own. One of our church members discovered a little church building far, far out in the country - something that's been for sale for a long time, for the good reason that a congregation can't survive there - and they've decided to spend their capital there (provided they're able to sell) rather than be without a church home for even a short period of time.

I've pastored in every sort of church building, from the embarrassingly horrible to the brand-new multi-million-dollar envy-of-the-community building. In most of them I believe we've spent more board meeting time talking about church buildings and the money to buy and keep them up than we have talking about ministry. Large or small, buildings dominate church life. Planning, constructing and paying for a 6 million dollar church took countless hours of planning and work. On the other hand, we recently had a lengthy discussion in one church board about fixing the flush handle on the men's urinal, to which an elder responded with a lecture on how it uses too much water anyway, and that he had placed a styrofoam cup next to the sink for men to pour a bit of water into the urinal after each use. And, he scolded, whoever's doing it, quit throwing away the cup!

That's an hour of my life I'll never get back.

It's in those moments that I realize how easily we forget about the world "out there". We exist for our building, not for our ministry. We say we'd like other people to join us in to our building. Yet the church isn't designed to be especially hospitable for new people - like, what if they don't know the correct usage of the urinal cup?

I confess, after all these years of being a pastor, I have become heartily sick of spending so much time and money on church buildings, building new ones or maintaining old ones. These are structures we use only a few hours in a week. Congregations seem to define themselves by their building, not by their people. Take away the building, and who are we? Even start-up congregations that begin in rented spaces dream of having their own building. Yet I think it could be argued that buildings encourage our tendency to be a private club. They create a territory that's hard for strangers to enter. They gather us together rather than pushing us out in the world where we should be.

How important are church buildings to the work of Jesus? Vital, or a necessary evil? I don't know the answer, but I'd welcome some discussion.

Like us on Facebook

Roger Hernandez cropped By Roger Hernandez


This week I had two conversations with leaders who are trying to improve and change their organizations - that is, their churches.  While encountering some opposition in the process is normal, here are some things you would want to consider, as you consider changing the culture of your church. 


When we arrive at a church/organization/new assignment, we sometimes make the following wrong assumptions:


Wrong assumption #1: People want the church to grow.

Everyone says they want to grow. Until you start changing the status quo. Then, not so much. We erroneously assume that people mean what they say, when they say they want their church to grow. Growth means changing some of what you have been doing, because if you continue doing the same things you have always done, you will be getting the same results you have always gotten. Take into consideration the following preferences in you church:

  • Some prefer small. Power is addictive, and they fear that more people = less power.
  • Some prefer same. They are used to what is. Comfortable. Known. Familiar.
  • Some prefer previous. The previous pastor taught them his way, and his was the only way.

Wrong assumption #2: People want to follow you.

You may be the assigned leader, but you are not always the real leader. We assume that people will embrace your super visionary, earth shattering, demon-destroying ideas. But many just want to sing some familiar songs and hear a sermon that will put them to sleep, not to work. You want to build a Home Depot. They are perfectly fine with a corner Mom & Pop store.


Wrong assumption #3: People understand the cost.

Change is hard. When Jesus calls us, he bids us to die. That's no fun! There is a high cost for excellence. It costs people their power, control, familiarity and predictability. Usually the leader lives, breathes and sleeps ministry. People in the congregation have something we call "lives". The cost for a church member to be "all in" is high. Spelling out the cost, and reassuring them of the kingdom's purpose, in great detail, is a must.


Here is an assignment. If you have a board/team of any kind, ask these 2 questions and sit back and take notes. Resist the urge to correct, rebuke, fire back, or get defensive with the answer. Just listenand take good notes. Here are the questions:

  • What would success look like, if we were to get there, in 3 years? Visualize for a moment what that looks like in: attendance, growth, worship, discipleship, children's ministry, youth involvement, finances. (Be as specific as you can in each area)
  • What would success feel like, if we accomplish in 3 years what we have set out to do?
Discuss this with Roger on our Best Practices Facebook page Like us on Facebook


Women in Ministry  
by Dave Gemmell

What about the texts used by some to silence women in the church?

Question #1: Because leadership positions in the Bible are typically occupied by males, should we even have females in leadership positions in the Adventist church?

Pioneers Interpretation
In the early days of the Adventist faith this argument came up occasionally by those who opposed this new denomination. "Seventh-day Adventist pioneers have always been supportive of women in ministry, all kinds of ministry including evangelism, preaching, departmental directors, colporteur ministry, whatever it is, Adventists were in favor of women in ministry" says Denis Fortin.
Read More



Good news for people of faith: attending religious service lowers the risk of depression. Quote: "The feeling is that if you belong to a religious organization, what you are really getting is just social support, nothing else. But it would appear it is something over and above that. Some ingredient of the religious experience other than behaviours, networks or attitudes alone probably contributes to the benefit. From the believers' perspective, they have recourse to divine assistance (even a personal relationship in Christian traditions) and thus are less likely to feel alone with the vicissitudes of life."Like us on Facebook

Yet Barna is again reminding us that America is becoming post-Christian.
Here's the latest research, and a marvelous infographic. Do you live in one of the nation's post-Christian cities? Like us on Facebook

Related: Craig Groeschel says that people aren't rejecting God, but the church. Is he right? Like us on Facebook

From one of my favorite bloggers, a commentary on Isaiah 40:31. Quote: "The female bald eagle can have a 7' wingspan and weigh up to sixteen pounds, the maximum legal weight of a bowling ball. She can also carry over four pounds of prey in her clenched talons. Assuming that circumstances have grounded an eagle, stopped it in its tracks, the most difficult part of flight is what Isaiah calls "mounting up with wings." The hardest part is taking off, regaining momentum." Like us on Facebook

A trend we've seen developing for a long time: donors want something meaningful to happen with their money. donors want something meaningful to happen with their money, and they want to know what it is. Like us on Facebook

LeadershipFreak always has good stuff, and here's an outline on how to turn "can't" thinking to "can do" thinking.  Like us on Facebook

According to the NYT, evangelical Christians have shifted significantly on immigration, now favoring a more moderate approach.

Were early Christians really persecuted? Some historians say not as much as we used to believe.
 "But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise."
  - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

"The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism."
  -  Norman Vincent Peale

"We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction."
  - Harry A. Ironside

"I do not know whether anyone has ever succeeded in not enjoying praise. And, if he enjoys it, he naturally wants to receive it. And if he wants to receive it, he cannot help but being distraught at losing it. Those who are in love with applause have their spirits starved not only when they are blamed off-hand, but even when they fail to be constantly praised." Like us on Facebook
  - John Chrysostom

"When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable."
  - Judith Martin

"Thou that hast given so much to me give me one thing more, a grateful heart: not thankful when it pleaseth me, as if Thy blessings had spare days, but such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise."
  - George Herbert

"Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you. Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs."
  - Saint Francis de Sales

"Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge." Like us on Facebook 

  - Fritz Perls   


The meanest, most contemptible kind of praise is that which first speaks well of a man, and then qualifies it with a But.  

 - Henry Ward Beecher 


2013 Young Adult Festival of Worship, Saturday, April 20, 2013, beginning at 9:00 AM [CST], at Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church, 4409 Pleasantview Drive, Arlington, TX 76017-1427.Centered on the theme, Jesus. All young adults can enjoy worship sessions, community service opportunities, seminars, and a 7:00 PM evening concert featuring awarding-winning recording artist, Christ August.  The entire day is free except the evening concert which is $8/general admission and $12/VIP pass.For tickets and more information go to In addition to preferred seating at the evening concert, VIP passes offer young adults a discipleship resource bag, festival t-shirt, and lunch.  The VIP passes have sold out in the past, so act now to reserve your tickets:

From Felix H. Cortez and the Adventist Theological Society: "We will have a Symposium titled "The Cross: A Symposium on the Atonement" at the Loma Linda Campus Hill church on April 18-20. These scholarly meetings are open to the public and are free. All are welcome to attend. Major speakers include, Dr. Jiri Moskala, newly appointed Dean of the Andrews University Seminary, Drs. Richard and JoAnn Davidson and Dr. Roy Gane of Andrews University, and Larry Lichtenwalter, Dean of Middle East College Seminary. The meetings begin April 18, 7 p.m. and continue all day Friday and Sabbath. For a program you may go to the Adventist Theological Society website at

Previous resource links:

Best Practices for Adventist Ministry is published by NAD Ministerial. Publisher: Ivan Williams;  Managing Editor:  Dave Gemmell. Copyright 2012 North American Division Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. v(301) 680-6418